The Health Minister has launched a three year free Meningococcal ACWY vaccination programme for 15-19 year olds through schools and Community Health Clinics in Western Australia the start during Terms 2 and 3 this year.  General practice will not be involved in administering the vaccinations. The programme is in response to an increase in the incidence of infection caused by the W-strain bacteria. Vaccinating 15-19 year olds has been shown to be the most effective way to prevent the spread of meningococcal bacteria.  Teenagers are the biggest carriers of the bacteria in the community. The vaccinations will occur over the next three years unless a National Program commences. A similar funded program has been established in the UK since 2015 and the US since 2005, with the vaccine proving safe and effective.

The peak age for actually developing meningococcal strain W infection has not been the teenage years, but in older people ( the early cases in Australia have been people in their 50s and 60s unlike other forms of meningococcal disease which tend to be more common in infants and also adolescents)

Other than vaccination and programs to reduce the carriage and spread of the bacteria , there is no specific preventive strategies to reduce the risk of developing the illness.

The number of cases of W strain meningococcal infection is very low, but has increased from one case in 2013 to 14 cases in 2016.

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